The vocabulary and tone of the historical works
written between 1086 (when the retired emperors seized control of state affairs) and 1221
(when the military government won a decisive victory against forces supporting the
Imperial Court) suggest that the evolution of historical consciousness in Japan was
closely connected with the spread of Buddhism. In attempting to understand that
connection, I venture to make a preliminary probe of the effect that three time-oriented
Buddhist doctrines had on historical writings in those years, and then consider briefly
this question: why was the last and most historically significant of these works--one
based on, and structured by, Buddhist assumptions of historical decline--deeply affected
by Shinto beliefs that were essentially optimistic and ahistorical?
The chain-of-causation doctrine was originally formulated to help an
individual rise above, or break out of, history--not simply to understand the process of
change. Meditation on the unending chain of twelve links, each link being caused by the
one before and causing the one to follow, was advanced as a discipline for enabling a
person to free himself from a miserable bondage to a never-ending succession of births and
An early Buddhist scripture tells us how 'Saakyamuni freed himself from
another birth, and thereby obtained enlightenment, by meditating on the chain. First he
meditated on the links in direct order: concentrating on ignorance and then on birth,
desire, old age, death, and around again to ignorance, birth, and so on. In this way he
came to understand, according to the scripture, the origin of the "whole mass of
suffering." Then he meditated on the causal links in reverse order, finally
eliminating suffering and achieving enlightenment.
Although handed down as an aid for the realization of nonsubstantiality
('suunyaata) of both world and self, the doctrine also drew one's thought to his existence
in time by way of preparation. Not only were the links in the chain related to successive
periods in an individual's life, but to past causes and future results--the links were
points in a karmic flow that ran from past to future, and around again to the past.
Scriptures containing explications of the chain of causation had been introduced to Japan
by the seventh or eighth century A.D. But for a century or two, most Buddhist worship
seems to have been focused upon magic power and to have been fostered by aristocratic
clans in order to enhance their own status and well-being, with little or no interest in
Buddhist doctrines of causation.
Gradually, however, Japanese literature came to be marked by an
increasingly large number of references to the "transience" (mujo) of life and
to the operation of "karmic force" (inga), suggesting that reflection on
Buddhist ideas of causal connection was making Japanese intellectuals more deeply aware of
the "nonsubstantiality'' of their existence. p.216 Concepts of "transience"
and "karmic force" exerted an increasingly deep influence on historical works
written between 1086 and 1221, but obtained their fullest expression in military tales
(particularly the Heike Monogatori; hereafter, Heike) written by persons who had become
disturbed by the disintegration of aristocratic institutions and values, a disintegration
that was consciously associated with the rise of leaders whose power was measured not so
much with reference to traditional determinants of status (noble birth, proximity to the
imperial court, and learning) as to military might.
The dominant mood of the Heike was expressed in its opening sentence:
"The sound of the bell of the Gion Shoja echoes the transience of all things."
At the end of the first paragraph the reader was forewarned that even the leaders of the
great military clan of Taira (the Heike) would not survive. The defeat and death of every
important character was explained as retribution (mukui) for evil deeds of the past, or as
a result of karmic force generated in previous lives.
The final chapter of the Heike, where the miserable last days of a
Taira empress were detailed, included this explanation: Such things were due simply to the
actions of Taira Kiyomori who took the affairs of the entire country into his own hands,
who did not stand in awe of the Emperor above or pay attention to the people below, who
condemned persons to death or sent them into exile just as he pleased, and who had no
scruples in dealing with either the state or the people. What is really seen here is that
the sins (zaigo) of ancestors are sure to bring karmic retribution on their descendants.
While Taira Shigehira (who burned down temples) suffered retribution for his own past
sins, the main historical theme of the Heike is that the descendants of Taira Kiyomori
were destroyed by the karmic power of Kiyomori's "evil deeds." Nothing is said
about meditating on the chain of causation in order to achieve enlightenment, but the
temporal implications of the doctrine account for the Heike way of relating past to
present. Buddhist causation also occupies a central position in the Gukansho
interpretation of Japanese history, for it stands at the core of one of the two sets of
Buddhist principles (dori') that, according to the author, moved events in Japan along
their "unilinear course."
The character and interrelationship of those two sets of principles are
touched upon in the following sentence: Since the life-fate (unmei) of man (high or low)
and the time-fate (jiun) of the past, present, and future are, generally speaking,
affected by [the ultimate Buddhist principle of] "spontaneity and naturalness"
(honi jizen)... and since there is.ralso] what is called the "cause and effect"
Principle of the past, present, and future, we can see (by understanding the relationship
of "cause-and-effect" Principles to the time-fate of "spontaneity")
that even though there is deterioration in history, there is also improvement. From this
and other references it is clear that the author of the Gukansho tied the inevitable
decline of history to the operation of "cause-and-effect" p.217 principles and
saw improvement as the effect of "spontaneity and naturalness." the highest of
the four Principles expounded on by Saicho.
Even when discussing Shinto principles (to be taken up later), the
Gukansho bases its explanations on the Buddhist concept of "cause and effect": I
do not think the elimination of all descendants of the Taira clan, or the [unfortunate]
history of the descendants of Shogun Minamoto Yoritomo (who really pacified the empire
with an ability that was rare for ancient as well as modern times) were the doings of man.
They were definitely in accord with the present-day Principle that soldiers should emerge
in this world, as decided by the ancestral Kami of the Imperial House (sobyo no kami).
Moreover, there have been resentful souls (onryo) of [deceased leaders of] the Taira clan.
A person of understanding will know that these things have occurred
simply in response [to the Principle of] "cause and effect" in the spiritual
world. Thus the temporal implications of the Buddhist doctrines of causation not only
provided foundations for the Gukansho's persistent theme of decline but were used to
explain the historical intentions of native deities who had not been much concerned with
the passage of time. Another doctrinal cluster directly connected with the evolution of
historical consciousness had been formed, in ancient times, around the view that the
universe and life were destined to pass through great Kalpas of time and change. The
formulation most often referred to in early Japanese historical accounts states that one
large kalpa is made up of four medium kalpas (becoming, existence, deterioration, and
nothingness), which follow one another, forming one great kalpa after another. A medium
Kalpa has, in turn, twenty small kalpas, the first half of each being a time of continuous
deterioration and the second half of continuous improvement.
At the beginning of a small kalpa (the present one is said to be the
ninth in the medium kalpa of "existence"), the average length of life is
estimated to be 80,000 years, but is shortened thereafter by one year every century. The
deteriorating half of every small kalpa will end, and improvement of the second half
begin, only when the average length of life drops to ten years. It was concluded that
'Saakyamuni was born when man was living approximately one hundred years. A Japanese
Buddhist priest, Kobo Daishi (774-835), is said to have calculated that the deteriorating
half of the present small kalpa would last for another 5,600,000 years. Although authors
of later historical and military tales (rekishi and gunji monogatari) do not seem to have
bothered, as Kobo Daishi did, to figure out where they stood on the kalpic scale, their
books suggest that kalpic thought lay at the base of their assumption of continuous
decline. This was verbalized by a statement in the Heike when retired Emperor Go Shirakawa
consoled the former Empress Kenrei-mon In by saying: "Even those who live to age of
80,000 [at the beginning of a small] kalpa,... must still face the grief of
The Gukansho--probably p.218 written in 1220--contains several
references to "the last part of the kalpa," and even refers to: "the
Principle of the last part of the Kalpa," and "the destiny of the movement of
time from the beginning to the end of [this small] kalpa." Clearly the author (Jien)
was implying that the world is destined to decline until the distant point when history
comes to the improving half of the present small kalpa. When considering the kalpic
deterioration that followed the death of 'Saakyamuni, early Buddhist writers delineated
three ages: (1) the age of True Law (usually said to have lasted one thousand years), when
man still possessed an understanding of the teachings, actions, and signs of 'Saakyamuni;
(2) the age of Imitation Law (the next one thousand gears), when mar is left only with
'Saakyamuni's teachings and acts; and (3) the age of the Final Law (lasting presumably
until the end of the deteriorating half of the present small kalpa), when only the
teachings of 'Saakyamuni would remain, and when even those would become increasingly
confused by the "five pollutions" (gojokusei).
The gradual decline of Buddhism was tied to a parallel decline in the
abilities (kiryo) of man, a decline in which Buddhist writers saw five phases. Japanese
intellectuals were more deeply influenced by concrete statements of deterioration
following the death of 'Saakyamuni than by kalpic speculation. As early as the seventh
century, some priests had become familiar with Buddhist scriptures that expounded on the
three-stage deterioration of Buddhism and the five-phase decline in the abilities of man.
Within another century, they were also becoming acquainted with Chinese books that
distinguished between three types of Buddhism: One Vehicle Buddhism for the age of True
Law; Three Vehicle Buddhism for the age of Imitation Law; and "universally correct
and true Buddhism" for the age of Final Law. The last type was declared to be
especially appropriate for polluted and evil (jokuaku) people living in this defiled world
(edo) during the age of Final Law (mappo).
While the "three teachings" (sankai-kyo) were introduced to
Japan quite early, the theory that certain types of Buddhism were appropriate to a
particular time, place, and human ability did not much affect Japanese thought, until
around 800. Signs of early interest in this theory are detected in the Miraculous
Exhibition of Virtue and Vice in Japan (Nihon Reiiki), written about 820. In the preface
to the last volume of those legends and folktales, the author (Keikai) spoke of the first
five hundred years after 'Saakyamuni's death as the age of True Law, the next thousand
years as the age of Imitation Law, and the following ten thousand years as the age of
Final Law. But it is in the life and writings of Saicho (767-822) , where the doctrine of
Buddhist deterioration was first clearly reflected in the deeds and thought of a Japanese
Buddhist. At the age of nineteen, Saicho fled from his temple to find peace p.219 and
quiet in the mountains, saying that his life had become insufferable. In an oath that he
swore at the time, he declared that "the whole world is filled with misery and there
is no peace; life is filled with sorrow and there is no pleasure."
In later writings he developed the thesis that the One Vehicle of the
Lotus Suutra incorporated teachings that people should follow at this point in time (near
the beginning of the age of Final Law) and in the current state of deteriorated human
ability (in the phase of "conflict"). By the end of the eleventh century,
Japanese intellectuals tended to accept the view that the world had entered the age of the
Final Law in 1052. The historical tales, written within a century of that date, were
colored by the pessimism inherent in such belief.
The Okagami, for example, contains the observation that "the
state's decay began in the reign of Emperor Reizei (947-969), when it seemed that world
affairs had become enclosed in absolute darkness." Absorption in deterioration is
also reflected in the Okagami's tough periodization of sociopolitical decline. But the
military tales, written still later, were more pessimistic. The attention of their authors
was no longer focused upon a glorious past but upon the defeat and destruction of
particular persons and clam. The Heike refers frequently to "the final reigns"
and to "the age of deterioration, " and at one point has Shigehira declaring
that he was being executed because of the "working out of Principles appropriate to
The "times" were obviously those of the Final Law. The
Gukansho was even more deeply colored by the assumption of continuous and inevitable
decline in Buddhist and human history. There the whole of Japan's past was fitted into
three periods of deterioration caused by the operation of sacred principles. Scattered
throughout the work an such Final Law terms as "the end of the age," "the
final reigns," and "the age of deterioration" The word Final Law (mappo)
itself appears only once, but it is found in a sentence which shows that Jien's
interpretation of Japanese history was firmly rooted in Final-Law belief: "Since we
have definitely entered the age of Final Law, and have came to a time of a corrupted state
in its final reigns when military men have seized important positions, I wish only
that...." But we find an even more concrete indication of Jien's assumption of
historical deterioration in his repeated reference to the idea that Japan will have only
"one hundred reigns" (hyaku-o).
In the first narrative chapter of the Gukansho, we read: "It is
said that the 'age of man', which began with the reign of Emperor Jimmu, will last for one
hundred reigns; and since we are now in the 84th reign, not many more are left." Jien
refers to"one hundred reigns" in seven other places, and twice in the last
chapter points out that only sixteen reigns remain. Although we find no speculation about
what will follow, "the advent of the one hundredth reign," it is implied that
that will be the end of the Japanese state. A third doctrinal complex intertwined with the
evolution of historical p.220 consciousness between 1086 and 1221 was formed around the
belief that the worship of Amitaabha was most appropriate for the age of Final Law. Such
worship-popularly referred to as Pure Land Buddhism, since an individual was taught to
believe that he could achieve rebirth in Pure Land (jode) paradise through faith in the
saving power of Amitaabha--has a long and complex history.
One early version of the Pure Land Suutra taught that a person might
achieve rebirth in Pure Land through good works as well as faith in Amitaabha. But a later
and increasingly popular version placed value on faith alone. The shift to an exclusive
reliance on faith was a crucial development in Japanese Buddhist history, described by the
thirteenth-century Japanese priest Honen as a turn from "difficult" to
"easy" Buddhism, and also as a turn from reliance on self (jiriki) to reliance
upon the "divine other" (tariki). Although Pure Land belief and practice based
upon the later version of the Pure Land Suutra had taken on the character of a religious
movement in sixth-century China, a was under the leadership of Shan-tao (613-681) and the
Pure Land patriarchs who followed him, and after many Chinese Buddhists had become
convinced that the world had entered the age of Final Law in the year 554 that the Pure
Land belief gradually emerged as one of the most popular forms of T'ang (618-960)
Then the movement spread to Japan, where T'ang culture was being
enthusiastically embraced. It is difficult, however, to detect institutional
manifestations of the movement in Japan before 847 when Ennin (794-864) built, after his
return from China, a Buddhist hall for the worship of Amitaabha and for the practice of a
rite described as "the ceaseless chanting of Amitaabha's name" (fudan nembutsu).
And only in the tenth century, under the spell of the many faceted and impressive
religious work of Genshin (942-1017),did the Pure Land strain become prominent in the
Tendai synthesis. By that time many Japanese Buddhists believed that the Final Law would
begin in 1055 not in 550 as earlier Chinese Buddhists had claimed.
So when Genshin wrote in his famous Ojo Yoshuu of 985 that Amitaabha
was the Buddha to be worshipped in the age of Final Law, he was advocating beliefs and
practices for an age that was thought to be near at hand. Fujiwara Michinaga (966-1027)
was the most famous and powerful aristocrat attracted to Pure Land Buddhism, after Genshin
had done so much to increase its appeal. The authors of the Eiga Monogatari and Okagami,
in which the life and times of Michinaga aroused feelings of nostalgia, seem also to have
been Pure Land believers. Consequently their accounts of Michinaga's life are heavy with
references to thought and action arising out of faith in the divine power of Amitaabha.
The Eiga's denouement comes when Michinaga vows, after various rites
had failed to cure his illness, to concentrate on Buddhist prayers for "the
destruction of evil and the creation of good" and p.221 on a "ceaseless chanting
of Amitaabha's name." Much attention was given, in the Eiga, to Michinaga's decision
to enter the priesthood and to build a great temple, the Hojo-ji. The dedication ceremony
for the Hojo-ji, held in 1022, was said to have been such a grand and impressive affair
that participants felt they had experienced Pure Land rebirth then and there before death.
But the Eiga brings Michinaga's life to as highest point of splendor as he, facing a
statue of Amitaabha, continued to chant Amitaabha's name right up to, and beyond, his last
breath. Thus the golden age of Michinaga was not merely a period of efficient
administration by a wise and able aristocrat, but one when the worship of Amitaabha--that
form of Buddhism most appropriate for the approaching age of the Final Law--had come into
its own, at least within aristocratic circles.
The second historical tale the Okagami, as well as the three military
tales that were thought to have been written before 1221, reflect the growing popularity
of Pure Land Buddhism. Expressions of Pure Land faith were embedded, to an increasing
degree, in feelings of pessimism about the future, an apparent by-product of the temporal
implications of Pure Land. In the Heike, for example, the last days of each Taira leader
are depicted as both a time for reliance on the saving power of Amitaabha and a time for
reflection on a general and inevitable decline in the human condition. But in the Gukansho
the connection between Pure Land thought and the evolution of historical consciousness is
more complex: Jien did not feel that the time had come for exclusive reliance upon the
divine power of Amitaabha, and yet his book was a more conscious articulation of Pure Land
affirmation of historical decline than any earlier work. Jien was clearly in no position
to reject the saving power of Amitaabha.
Long before his day, this form of Buddhism had moved to the center of
the Tendai synthesis, and Jien, having been appointed four times to the highest office in
the Tendai sect, would have weakened the doctrinal base of his sect by denying the truth
of Pure Land teachings. Furthermore, his own brother Tadazane, to whose influence Jien
owed his rapid rise in the Tendai order, had become converted to Pure Land by Honen
(1133-1212) , one of Japan's greatest Pure Land teachers. But priests of the Tendai
establishment wee threatened by Honen's claim that the times required an exclusive
reliance on the saving power of Amitaabha. So they demanded that he and his disciples be
banished from the capital, and Jien spoke out against what Honen had been doing and
The basis of Jien's opposition is found in the Gukansho: "Honen
urged people to call only on the name of Amitaabha and not to practice other forms of
Buddhism, either exoteric or esoteric." Honen's rejection of other forms of Buddhism
was undoubtedly the main reason for Jien's complaint that "incomprehensibly stupid
and unlearned monks and nuns" believed what Honen taught, and that Honen preached
such a perverse p.222 message as this: "Amitaabha will not blame you in the least if
you lust after women, or eat fish and birds. If you follow 'the absolutely one and only
discipline' and believe only in the importance of chanting the name of Amitaabha, He will
certainly come to meet you at the time of death [and escort you to the Pure Land]."
Jien pointed to other deplorable aspects of the movement. But then he admitted that with
further decline in history, the day would come when a person's entry into paradise would
be facilitated by faith in Amitaabha.
For the present, however, he insisted that Shingon and Tendai teachings
still had value. Thus he did not deny the truth of Pure Land teachings but rejected
Honen's view that the times invalidated all other forms of Buddhist thought and practice.
Although the Gukansho contains the most conscious articulation of historical decline ever
written in Japan, its interpretation of Japan's past was built upon a substructure of
belief in Final Law that was interlaced with belief in divine powers that can create
improvement. To be sure, Jien was strongly convinced that human history was destined to
move toward decay and extinction. At the beginning of his summary chapter; he writes that,
from beginning to end, any country, large or small, goes down the path of deterioration.
After equating the continuous disintegration of countries with the process of ruination
during the first half of the current small kalpa, he asserts that this is a process that
man has no power to alter. But then, in the very next paragraph, he points to principles
(some Buddhist and some not) that can create improvement. Buddhist principles of this sort
include, he said, the power of Buddha to "destroy evil and create good" and to
"bless the living" with "expedient ways" [for receiving the benefits
of Buddha Law].
He admits that only a wise man can understand the contradictory
relationship between Buddhist principles that predetermine (by principles of "cause
and effect") continuous decline and those that create (by principles of
"spontaneity and naturalness") improvement, but sets out, "within the
bounds of thought and word," to show how this can be done. Limitations to Jien's
kalpic pessimism-sufficient to engage in writing history--were certainly due in large part
to his belief in the power of Buddhists or bodhisattvas to temporarily check, even
reverse, the inevitable decline in human history, but his belief in the sacred power of
ancestral kami (native Japanese deities) may have been more significant.
The nature and strength of his Shinto beliefs stand revealed in his
concept of Imperial Law (oho), and in the way he consistently supports his interpretation
of Japanese history with two mutually reinforcing pillars: Imperial Law and Buddha Law.
Since Jien was a highly placed Buddhist priest--and the imprint of Buddhist causation,
Final Law deterioration, and Pure Land thought on the Gukansho is quite clear--the
strength of the Buddhist pillar is obvious. But the function of Shinto belief,
particularly as reflected in Jien's concept of Imperial Law, p.223 is not so quickly
detected, or so fully appreciated. A careful reading of the Gukansho will show that Jien's
historical interpretation is deeply colored by these interrelated views about Imperial
Law: (1) Imperial Law is manifested in, and coeval with, all imperial reigns--especially
the thirty-three that preceded the introduction of Buddhism; (2) at the core of Imperial
Law lies the divine principle (revealed by the Sun Goddess) that ancestral kami wanted
emperors appointed only from the imperial line; (3) the earliest and best period of
Japanese history preceded the introduction of Buddhism--called the age of True Law, a
Buddhist term for the earliest and best period of Buddhist history; (4) an important role
of Buddhism was to protect Imperial Law; and (5) Japanese history was properly seen within
the framework of imperial reigns.
When Jien took up the political question that seems to have moved him
to write the Gukansho, he advocated a course of action explained and justified in terms of
ancestral-kami will-placing his interpretation squarely above the pillar of Imperial Law.
It is thus pertinent to consider the setting in which Jien decided to write the Gukansho.
In 1219, a great grandson of Kanezane (a two-year-old boy by the name of Yoritsune) was
sent oh to Kamakura to be the next shogun. The event encouraged Jien to hope that his
house would soon rise, once more, to a position of power in state affairs. But during the
following year retired Emperor Go Toba began to marshal military forces for an attack on
Jien was horrified by these moves, for he was convinced that they would
had to disaster for the imperial house. Consciously or unconsciously, he map have been
more deeply disturbed by the possibility of disaster for his own hour, the Kujo. In any
case, he did everything he could to oppose a policy that would destroy the very
cooperation between the imperial court, the Fujiwara, and the shogunate that the
appointment of Yoritsune was meant to establish. Even though Jien had been a confidante of
the retired emperor (mainly because of a common interest in poetry), he was unable to
shake Go Toba's determination to force a showdown with the military government of
Kamakura. So the writing of the Gukansho is thought to have been a desperate effort by
Jien to convince the retired emperor that he was acting contrary to the divine principles
of history. While Jien's historical interpretation was meant to show that cooperation
between the Fujiwara and Minamoto clans, in supporting the imperial clan, had been
determined by interlocking principles, the principles that had the most direct hearing
upon his solution to the current political crisis emerged from Shinto belief and were
associated with the deterministic power of Imperial Law. Jien based his case for
reoperation between the three clans not only on those relatively unchanging principles of
Imperial Law outlined above, but on Imperial-Law principles that were true and decisive
for particular periods of Japanese history.
For the ancient period, he affirmed p.224 the principle (revealed by
the Sun Goddess, the ancestral kami of the imperial house) that emperors should rule
alone, without ministerial assistance. For the medieval period, he expounded the principle
(revealed in a sacred agreement between the Sun Goddess and the ancestral kami of the
Fujiwara clan) that emperors should be guarded and assisted by Fujiwara ministers. And for
the modern period he worked out the implications of a principle (revealed in another
sacred agreement--this time involving the ancestral kami of the Minamoto clan) that the
emperor should be supported by both the Fujiwara and the Minamoto. Such a buildup of
principles for particular periods was not a wholly artificial creation of Jien's mind, for
it corresponded roughly to historic changes in imperial rule, and had strong
socioreligious roots in the ancestral kami worship (centered at old and important shrines)
of the country's three most powerful clans.
In developing the modern-period principle of cooperation between
Fujiwara and Minamoto, Jien moved from the Buddhist view that history had arrived at an
advanced stage of deterioration to the Shinto belief that, in such a desperate situation,
imperial rule required a new kind of support: military protection willed by ancestral
kami. He saw the loss of the Sacred Sword (one of the three imperial regalia) at the
battle of Dannoura in 1185 as proof that the kami had made such a gift. He explained that
since the emperor was now to be given real-not symbolic--military backing, the sacred
sword was no longer an indication of what the kami had in mind and was, therefore, taken
back. But Jien did not think of the modern-period gift of military aid as a substitute for
the old support of learning, but rather that the deteriorated conditions of the age
Arguing from a belief in a sacred vow between ancestral kami, he
therefore declared that the appointment of Yoritsune (a Fujiwara) to the position of
shogun (traditionally held by a Minamoto) was precisely what the kami had wanted: the
unified support of learning and armies for the emperor. Having thus reached a position of
certainty about the past, present, and future, Jien did not hesitate to urge retired
Emperor Go Toba to stop opposing the shogunate, accept the sacred principle of joint
assistance from the Fujiwara and the Minamoto, allow Yoritsune to assume his sacred role,
and appoint advisers who ready understood the principles of history.
He even warned--after citing earlier cases of abdication caused by
imperial wrongheadedness-that if the retired emperor did not mend his ways, and follow the
will of the kami, he might be deposed. Having noted that historical works written between
1086 and 1221 were increasingly Buddhist in tone, but that the last and historically most
significant of them was also rooted in Shinto belief, one is impelled to ask whether
Buddhist temporal thought was really crucial to the evolution of historical consciousness
during these years. The influence of Buddist ideas was certainly strong in the Gukansho.
Its periodization was basically Buddhist; many of p.225 its deterministic principles were
Buddhist; and even its Shinto principles were given historical dimensions that were
explained by referring to Buddhist concepts of causation. It is difficult to imagine Jien
turning to the use of history--at a time of crisis for the three institutions that he
valued most: the imperial court, the Fujiwara clan, and the Tendai order--apart from his
immersion in Buddhist ideas of causation, Buddhist doctrines of historical deterioration,
and Buddhist faith in Amitaabha.
And yet we cannot deny that when he faced the most pressing political
questions of his day, he devised answers that he said had been willed by the kami.
Although Buddhist thought and belief were fundamental to the historical interpretations of
the Gukansho, the author stated, over and over, that Buddha Law and Imperial Law were
mutually supportive. Although Buddhist teachings drew men's minds to the temporality of
their existence, and kami worship was imbued with a quality of life-affirmation that was
largely ahistorical, Jien's Buddhist convictions seem to have led him to think of
ancestral kami as relating their will to specific periods of history, and his Shinto,
convictions to have led him to conclude that the inevitable process of historical decline
was destined to include periods of improvement. We therefore can understand neither Jien's
interpretation of Japanese history, nor his reasons for writing the Gukansho, unless we
see the implications of a constant interaction between Buddhist thought and Shinto
belief--an interaction that Jien himself emphasized when he wrote that his main objective
was to show how Buddha Law and Imperial Law "protected" each other.